Freightliner Corporation introduced its new non-conventional or cabover tractor, the Argosy, at a dealer meeting in March.
"We're introducing a truck that defies the usual characteristics of the cabover category," said Jim Hebe, Freightliner president and CEO. "The Freightliner Argosy is a product of unconventional thinking. We're taking Freightliner's advanced Century Class technology to new lengths, while at the same time avoiding the trade-offs of a traditional CEO."
The operator gains outstanding visibility and a wide cab without having to put up with a bulky engine tunnel that compromises driver room and comfort, Hebe said. The tractor's tight turning radius doesn't come at the expense of easy cab of the driver's environment. The front wheel cut of up to 50 degrees works with the mid-axle-back setting for superior maneuverability in tight spots.
"With the Argosy, Freightliner returns to its historic roots when Freightliner pioneered the cabover more than a half-century ago," said Hebe. The debut of the Century Class Argosy also follows by two years the rollout of the original Century Class Conventionals. They entered the truck market in early 1996 after their public introduction in October 1995.
Production of the Argosy will begin midyear at Freightliner's Cleveland Truck Plant in North Carolina. The Argosy will be available in five models: the 110" raised-roof edition, 90", 101" and 110" mid-roof versions, and a 63" flat-top model.
Driver's Environment The Argosy provides unsurpassed forward visibility through the wide, one-piece or two-piece windshield, said Hebe. The wraparound instrument panel has an electronic dashboard with digital gauges. The instrumentation control unit houses the main set of gauges that face the driver. Auxiliary gauges and switches are located in the B-panel of the dashboard, to the driver's right.
The driver message center, located right in front of the driver on the dashboard, communicates information about fuel use, fluid levels and temperatures. It displays diagnostic information, fault warnings and trip information in a choice of English, French, or Spanish. It also receives messages from satellite or land-based communications.
An all-new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system provides even heating and cooling throughout the Argosy cab. A sleeper booster unit maintains a consistent interior temperature through a range of outside temperatures from -20 degrees to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
The near absence of a traditional engine tunnel in the cab floor keeps the interior clear of interference so that occupants can move freely about the cab. The last vestige of the doghouse in the Argosy is a three-inch-high bump in the floor that can be up to seven inches high for larger engines.
The absence of a wide tunnel also promotes the optimal seating position for driver and passenger. The seats are moved inboard for a wider shoulder clearance and use of side spaces that in traditional cabovers were reserved for occupant movement in the cab. Side spaces can be used for modular cabinetry in Century Class interiors.
In addition to the extra cab width, the Argosy has standup headroom from the seats on back in the 110: raised roof model, and nearly that much in the mid-roof models.
Safety Advancements For enhanced occupant safety, more than 40 safety innovations are available as standard or optional equipment, including antilock braking with traction control, North America's first electronic brake system, daytime running lights, and a low-profile chassis design for greater vehicle stability.
An innovative staircase-style entry system is an option for easy cab entry and exit. Electronically controlled, the steps automatically pivot from under the cab door when the door is opened and pivot back under the cab when the door is closed.
A driver's airbag is an option. In the event of a crash, the seatbelt pretensioning and seat pulldown system, increases the space to the steering wheel and the head clearance to the roof in rollover conditions.
Incorporating the latest in lightweight technology, the Argosy cab is 80% aluminum by weight. It complies with EC R-29 European crashworthiness standards as well as U S Standards.
As with all Century Class trucks, Henrob self-piercing and countersunk rivets are used in the cab construction.
Stronger than cold-driven rivets or spot welds, Henrob rivets create a smooth surface for easy application of custom pain and customer logos.
Easier Servicing The Freightliner Argosy has been designed for easier service, and where possible, extended service intervals. "Freightliner designed the Argosy on the principle that the only thing better than making components easy to access is making them easy to ignore for longer periods," said Michael Von Mayenburg, senior vice-president of engineering and technology at Freightliner.
An extended chassis lube cycle of 100,000 miles is standard on the Argosy. Some components-such as the steering shaft, leaf spring bushings, drive shaft, and clutch bearing-need no maintenance at all. The Century Class Argosy has a standard warranty covering the basic vehicle for three years or 350,000 miles.
Until 1986, the cabover was the most popular configuration because of overall length laws. However, when overall length become less critical, the conventional become the overwhelming truck of choice. The cabover market has declined to about 3% of heavy trucks today, but Freightliner executives believe that market will grow again.
"As highways and metropolitan areas continue to grow more congested, pressure will be placed on the trucking business to reduce the number of loads, to restrict the time of day that trucks are on the road, and to increase productivity," said Mark Lampert, senior vice-president, sales and marketing at Freightliner. "Also, as the driver shortage continues, fleets need to find a way to haul more freight with fewer trucks.
"Outside America, the rest of the world is based largely on cabovers," Lampert added. "The export markets of South America and the right-hand-drive countries of South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand are key target markets."